on...Camp Memories - Through the Years -
My first memory of BlackHills Camp was in 1956 when I was five years old. Our family stayed in a big, canvas army
tent set on a wooden platform. There were two rows of tents set up across the middle of the campground. Our clothes
were hung on hangers across the middle, wooden support pole. Mom and Dad brought the box springs and mattresses
from our beds at home and set them on cinder blocks. We had our kitchen table and chairs, a toaster, Larry's crib,
a high chair, a propane camping stove, and a percolator to make coffee. Trust me, rain and wind were not a welcome
sight when you lived in a tent for ten days!
I remember going to VBS, Ring Meeting, morning praise, worship, and preaching services, as well as evening service
that lasted until the last person at the altar prayed through (then everyone who had been at the altar gave a
testimony). The floor of the Tabernacle was sawdust and straw, and the pews were made from very rough unfinished
wood. Many times my dresses (yes, we wore dresses and skirts, no shorts or slacks for the females) were torn from
catching on the pew.
Prayer, praise, and old-fashioned preaching wafted to the rafters. There were, just like the present time, a lot of
children and teens on the campground. Camp meeting people quickly became "family." Many of my very best friends that
I still have today are my camp friends. Of course some have moved away and some have moved up to Heaven (which I
believe is a lot like camp meeting). All of these friends I cherish with all my heart. Each one has greatly impacted
my life in some way.
When I was seven years old, I accepted Jesus into my heart. I don't remember the Evangelist or the invitational song
that was sung, but I vividly remember feeling the weight of my childish sin. I ran down the aisle and knelt at the
altar on the far right side. I remember feeling the weight of sin lifted, the lights were so much brighter, and I knew
Jesus was real. I realize now that He saved me, and His grace has kept me from a lifetime of what I might have been. I
so appreciate the Bible teaching and being able to grow up hearing and seeing the power of God in the lives of people
who attended camp. Life is not easy, I've been thrown a few curve balls, but I have found, through it all, God is
I have always had a great desire to attend camp meeting. As children, as soon as Christmas was packed away, we began to
talk about and plan for camp. I have been fortunate to stay at every camp since 1956. On occasion, I have had to drive
into work a few days during camp. One year, Francy Powviriya and I happened to be working together on a unit at the
hospital. Camp time arrived, and we weren't going to be able to get time off. We were both praying to get to go to camp.
The census dropped, and it was decided that patients could be transferred to other units in the hospital and our unit
would be closed. We worked feverishly that morning moving the patients in their heavy wooden beds to their new rooms! We
were determined to get to camp, and we did.
I remember that when I was very young, a man who was heavily intoxicated staggered into the campground right at the end of
an evening service. A group of pastors and men gathered and prayed with him at the altar. I don't remember how long it
took, but the men testified the next morning that they had prayed the alcohol out of him. He was sober and could walk a
straight line, but, better yet, he met Jesus that night.
I couldn't wait to be old enough to be a waitress at family camp. Everyone knew that the waitresses in the dining hall were
the "cool girls." We ate family style, so it was the waitresses’ job to fill and refill, and refill, the many serving dishes,
serve coffee, water, tea or Postum (google it). Some teenage guys thought it would be funny to pour their water down the big
cracks in the rough, wooden floor in the dining hall making our work harder. I should say here that these cute guys did help
us wash dishes and clean the floor later. We also set the tables, washed all of the dishes, silver, glasses, cups, pots, and
pans! It was hard work and we were "well supervised." Many special people helped us get the work done so we could get to the
evening service on time. We sang, laughed, and had a great time of fellowship.
I was so excited to introduce each of my children to camp meeting. Now, my grandchildren attend and love camp. Our daughter,
Lisa, her husband, Mike, and their three year old son, Zachary, pulled into the campground early on Thursday, the opening day
of camp 2002. They wanted to get as much camp time as possible. Mike and Lisa left on Sunday evening to go to the hospital
for Lisa's scheduled Cesarean Section. Hayleigh arrived early Monday morning. Her mom and dad brought her to camp on Saturday
when she was five days old. She and her family still love camp meeting.
Through the years, many improvements have been made at BlackHills Campground. It continues to be a place of teaching, preaching,
worship, prayer, and fellowship. It is a sanctuary: offering salvation to the lost, refreshing to the weary, and healing of the
hurts we encounter in our journeys through life. It takes a lot of work, prayer, and planning to make camp happen each year,
but it is well worth the effort if even one soul is saved from Satan's grip. God will continue to do great things at BlackHills
camp. Just in case you haven't figured it out yet...I love camp meeting and all the people who make it an awesome place.
Thank you for allowing me to share my memories,